MERCED — The stage was being set Tuesday for the eighth commencement ceremonies this weekend at UC Merced, where more than 1,000 graduates are expected to turn their tassels.
This year's commencement marks a special milestone for UC Merced with the most degrees the university has awarded in its history, according to officials. Two graduation ceremonies will be held as a result of the large class.
The university is expected to confer 1,008 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, including 957 bachelor's degrees, 10 master's degrees and 41 doctorate degrees. This reflects a 48 percent increase from last year's 683 degrees, which included 641 bachelor's, 23 master's and 19 doctorates.
"As a result of that growth, the campus decided on two school-based ceremonies," said Brenda Ortiz, a UC Merced spokeswoman. "It will help us provide a better overall experience for students and their families."
Chancellor Dorothy Leland, who will preside over her second commencement at UC Merced, said she's extremely proud of the graduates and their accomplishments.
"So many of them are the first to graduate from college in their families and they hold great promise as they go out and engage in the world as UC Merced alumni," Leland said.
This year's graduates come from 42 counties across California, four other states and four other countries: China, India, Japan and Malaysia.
The keynote address for the Saturday ceremony will be delivered by retired astronaut and engineer José Hernández, who ran for Congress this November. Students in the schools of natural sciences and engineering will take part that day.
Sunday's ceremony will feature acclaimed author and organic farmer David Mas Masumoto of Fresno. Students in the school of social sciences, humanities and arts will participate.
Both ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. in the South Bowl on campus.
UC Merced opened September 2005 as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first new American research university of the 21st century.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or email@example.com.